Samsung UE40JU6400 (£500)
What’s the story?
It wasn’t long ago that you would have needed a second mortgage to even think about getting a 4K TV. Now here we are, with one for £500, and you don’t even need to sell your firstborn. That’s one hell of an achievement.
Not that Samsung wants to make a song and dance about it. If anything, this telly looks intentionally unassuming. It’s as if the company wants to Clark Kent the thing, hiding its powers behind a humdrum appearance. At first glance, it does the trick.
The thick bezel and coat of ordinary black plastic immediately separate this model from the touchy-feely-sexy ones with extra unicorn dust. Don’t dismiss it just yet, though. The JU6400 sits firmly in the middle of Samsung’s TV family, and while it doesn’t get to sit at the VIP table, it is still important enough to get UHD resolution (3840 x 2160).
You can expect no 3D, no High Dynamic Range compatibility and no fancy curved screen. There is also one big remote instead of two little ones, which is no bad thing. You do get the Tizen smart interface, heavily ‘inspired’ by LG’s WebOS: a lovely system that lets you multitask and skip between apps and inputs as easily as you would change channels.
It’s a 4K TV for £500! And the picture is very sharp indeed. Those pixels (all 8.3 million of them) look lovely crammed onto that 40in screen. Some say that 4K is pointless on smaller screens, but we would strongly disagree.
This sort of pixel density isn’t just good for definition, but it does wonders for clarity too. It means you can sit further back without squinting like Clint Eastwood. It means you can sit closer before Jurassic World starts to look like Minecraft.
It’s good at upscaling too, so your 1080p Blu-rays will look crisp as a frozen Kettle Chip while you’re waiting for UHD Blu-rays to arrive. The colours are convincing and contrast is strong enough to defend itself against fairly bright rooms.
The black levels could be deeper, though. There’s enough detail in the shadows to make out the grease on Keanu Reeves’ hair in John Wick, but dark scenes just never get properly black. Still, the dynamism on hand is impressive for an LCD TV. Viewing angles are not as generous we’d hope. The two or three people sitting in the middle will get the optimum picture, but beyond that the picture begins to wash out – not so good for other people sprawled out across the living room.
Navigation, meanwhile, is slower than you’d expect from a quad-core processor. It’s not a real problem, but it does slow Tizen’s zippy interface a bit. Double espresso, please.